News / Asia

US Aid Group Criticizes Delay on N. Korea Aid Request

Children eat bread at a nursery in Myongchon County, North Hamgyong province in this handout picture (File)
Children eat bread at a nursery in Myongchon County, North Hamgyong province in this handout picture (File)

Several American aid groups are criticizing the U.S. government delay on deciding whether to resume large-scale food donations to North Korea. The charities warn that if substantial aid is not permitted in the next six to nine months, many vulnerable people in the impoverished communist state could die from starvation.

Five non-governmental organizations, based in the United States, are warning of a potential humanitarian crisis if the U.S. government does not allow the resumption of food aid to North Korea.

Months ago, the groups recommended a food aid program for the segment of the North Korean population they deem most at risk -- women and children. The organizations say they have received no response from Washington.

Earlier in September, a delegation from the groups went on a U.S. government supported trip to several crop-rich North Korean provinces hit by recent flooding. Following the visit, they concluded that health and food security in the country are deteriorating.

“The spread of the severe acute malnutrition, and the rapidity of it, has caused us great alarm," said Kenneth Isaacs, vice president for programs and government relations of one of the involved groups, Samaritan's Purse, a Christian relief organization based in the U.S. state of North Carolina. "And we feel if there is not an intervention in the next six to nine months we will see numerous deaths.”

The groups say millions of North Koreans may be caught in what they call a “political crossfire.”

Isaacs says part of the reason for maintaining a suspension on food shipments appears to be South Korean pressure on Washington.

“We haven't seen any report nor have we heard any contradictions or any challenges to our assessments or World Food Program's assessments. So I don't really know what is going with the U.S. government and how they are calculating things,"  Isaacs said. "Although it does seem to be quite tied to what the government of the Republic of Korea wants to do or not to do with humanitarian assistance. There's some linkage there.”

South Korea's Unification Ministry tells VOA News that both political and humanitarian concerns have to be taken into consideration when making decisions about resumption of large scale food aid.

The chief U.S. aid official was quoted by the Reuters news agency last week as saying Washington will not resume food aid to Pyongyang until the North Korean government satisfies concerns that it will not divert future shipments for its own use.

Rajiv Shah, who runs the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said there have been no such credible assurances from the North Koreans despite repeated discussions.

In August, Washington sent nearly one million dollars worth of emergency assistance to the North in wake of the flooding. U.S. officials say that shipment mostly consisted of tents and plastic sheeting.

The U.S. government suspended food aid to North Korea in 2008, because of a disagreement about monitoring supplies.

Until international sanctions were imposed on Pyongyang because of its nuclear programs, South Korea and the United States were the biggest aid donors to North Korea.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid